Public Meeting with John Lister 14th April – NHS Who owns it?

We’re delighted that John Lister has agreed to join Leeds KONP’s meeting on Wednesday 14th April 6.30-8pm to talk about privatisation of the NHS and what we can do about it and hope you can come along and encourage others to join us.    

As many of you will know John has been writing, lecturing and campaigning for the NHS for well over 30 years and is a founder member of Keep Our NHS  Public and Health Campaigns Together.  He  has an amazing amount of info about what is going on around the country, indeed internationally and has talked to packed meetings in Leeds on several occasions  

Join us next week ! Contact us for Zoom link

Leeds KONP latest news

Full minutes: 17th March 2021

Next meeting: 31st March; 18.30pm, contact us for Zoom details

Highlights

  • Operose ( subsidiary of US Centene ) has taken over 37 GP surgeries in London which were being run by a GP consortium – “AT medics”. Campaigners have been exploring the possibility of challenging the CCGs over the legality of them approving the takeover. Operose also have about 20 other practices in England, 2 here in East Leeds. It is confusing to say all GPs are private. They are independent contractors but most see themselves as part of the NHS and are on GMS or PMS contracts so can’t buy and sell their practice. A minority of GP practices are on APMS (Alternative Provider Medical Services ) contracts which were introduced in 2014. They allow practices to be bought and sold and work contracted out.
  • John responded to a spread in the paper from Rob Webster , chief of the West Leeds ICS , in his letter in the YEP today, which challenged the argument that the re-organisation is about partnership not privatisation. Yesterday G & J attended a meeting with some ICS leaders/ organisers initiated by Jenny Shepherd to discuss public engagement and the Board’s responses to questions from the public.
  • Discussed organising a public meeting , maybe focusing on how privatisation is eating into the NHS despite all the publicity saying it is on the way out ! Everyone felt we could make a larger Zoom meeting work although maybe best to use webinar mode/ facility .
  • Leeds TUC environment change group are having another planning meeting re what we can do in Yorkshire in the build up to COP 26 ( Oct) to raise awareness of the need to stop damaging the environment and halting disastrous climate change. Leeds People Before profit group ( linked to Leeds TUC) are holding a public meeting Defend the Right to Protest on Monday 29th March 6pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/500062337821996

Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together

Latest minutes

  1. RCN reacted quickly to the 1% offer by talking about building up a strike fund. In Leeds a couple of people took a placard and banner to St. James and posted pics. The Labour Party are saying the staff should get the promised 2% but this is only £7 a week for many. Lots of workers are losing out on pay rises but to hold back on supporting NHS staff is to join a race to the bottom. 97,000 nurses have moved out of their nursing jobs in the last 10 years and a large proportion of the workforce is over 55, so coming up to retirement.
  2. Vocare started off in Scarborough, where some staff were tuped over, and is now embedded in York as well, providing GP out of hours service and a minor injuries clinic. They started off small and GP owned but have been bought out by Totally Ltd – see Jenny Shepherd’s blog
  3. Calderdale Scrutiny Board is challenging whether there will be sufficient support in place within the community to justify/enable the planned reduction in hospital beds by 155 and reduction from two to one intensive care units.
  4. In Craven half of the GP practices are run by Modality and Grassington surgery has been run down and amalgamated with a practice in Ilkley. People are also being sent to Skipton and other towns for Covid vaccinations and the notion of a local GP service is fast disappearing
  5. Leeds Hospital Alert have been taking the lead campaigning against the panned closures of 2 Local Authority homes one of which provides invaluable respite care. Meanwhile Villa Care continue to run 5 transit wards in Leeds and Wharfedale Hospitals – insourcing privatisation again !

Full minutes: https://leedskeepournhspublic.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/yorkshire-health-campaigns-together-meeting-12.3.21.pdf

You can register for  some or all of the fortnightly wed evening sessions of  KONP’s People’s Inquiry Into Covid at :  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DbK_8P-rRgm5VVsUebTKbw


We are pencilled in for a Yorkshire demonstration for the NHS in Leeds on Saturday 10th July

If you haven’t visited Leeds KONP In the Dark exhibition yet, you can visit directly by clicking: https://www.artsteps.com/view/6053a99418b3ed388c99fc32

KONP gets two letters in the YEP

Leeds KONP members had two letters published in the Yorkshire Evening Post on March 17th – this may be a record! Dr John Puntis’s letter can be seen here and Gilda Peterson’s is below.

LAST Spring, when the sun shone and the roads were almost empty of traffic, we dared to hope that after all the suffering, there would be no return to a society where billionaire tycoons are feted while many health, care and other essential workers are poorly paid and undervalued; where gross inequalities are seen as “normal” and little done to stop destroying our planet.
Now we have Leeds City Council planning to plug an £87m funding gap by closing two of the few remaining local authority homes, including Richmond Court, which provided rehabilitation and respite care for older people and some of the eight million family and friends who prop up our inadequate, almost wholly privatised social care system.
A great opportunity for city children to try water sports at Yeadon Tarn is to be ditched and three community centres closed.

Let’s salvage something positive from the last year, refuse to accept cuts and poverty wages, defend our public services and insist on a fairer, very different tomorrow.


The budget offered nothing for Social Care while NHS staff, exhausted by a year of fighting to save our lives while covering 100,000 vacant posts, have been offered a miserly one per cent pay rise: a pay cut in real terms.
To add injury to insult, the Public Accounts Committee are insisting that the Government account for spending £37bn on a largely privatised and ineffective, test and trace system, propped up by private consultants on £6,000 per day!
Our local Public Health system, which is doing a brilliant job vaccinating our city, could have run an effective system at a fraction of the cost.
The Government’s fundamentalist belief that private is better than public, which flies in the face of all evidence, has also led to £millions being squandered on useless PPE.
Let’s salvage something positive from the last year, refuse to accept cuts and poverty wages, defend our public services and insist on a fairer, very different tomorrow.

Yorkshire Evening Post: NHS and Reality?

If the NHS is “catching up with reality”, what reality might this turn out to be?

Could it be the current reality of 18% of NHS budget going to private companies, 30% of hip and 24% of cataract operations being bought by the NHS from private hospitals, 30% of mental health hospitals being privately run and 44% of spending on child and adolescent mental health going to the private sector?

Private companies take NHS staff and siphon taxpayers’ money to shareholders, often providing an inferior service. During the pandemic, the government suspended competitive tendering and spent huge amounts of public money on contracts without competitive tendering. A staggering £37bn has been given to privatised ‘test and trace’ that according to the Pubic Accounts Committee has had no effect on spread of coronavirus. Is this what getting rid of competition means – replacing a regulated market with an unregulated one?

The NHS White Paper proposals are designed to hasten privatisation in both clinical services and management of the NHS through a new process of procurement. The intention is to embed the private sector throughout the NHS, increasing dependence on firms developing Integrated Care Systems (ICS), including many global corporations. ICS Boards will involve private companies, allowing them to influence which services are delivered and by whom.

Planning will shift away from providing universal comprehensive health care to meeting targets for the health of a population, managing demand becoming more important than meeting needs of patients. Local authority powers are being decreased and decision making moved further away from local communities with even less democratic accountability than now. Rollout of ICSs should be halted and a meaningful widespread consultation held.

What we need is legislation to bring back a universal, comprehensive, publicly provided and publicly funded NHS, fit for the 21st century

John Puntis
Chair, Leeds Keep Our HS Public

Join us tomorrow

Download our Window Poster

Contact us for meeting link: 6.30 – 8pm

Whistle-stop tour of the latest  national news and analysis  from Doc Puntis

Integrated Care Systems national KONP campaign and local developments.

Making more sense of privatisation  in primary care

Update on Richmond House  and other cuts in public services  – Sylvia Landells

Meeting/hustings re local elections ? 

Other campaigns very relevant to us –

Defending the right to protest- Leeds People before Profit have a public mtg Monday 29th 6pm

Organising activities in Yorkshire in the run up to COP 26. Register for the next  mtg organised by  Leeds TUC Climate change/ Environment subcommittee at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/building-for-cop-26-planning-organising-coalition-building-11am-27321-tickets-145904752041   

NB For more info and to register for the next session of KONP’s People’s Covid Inquiry, see  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_etzAsAatRgiDI7IO5TeJLw

Leeds KONP updates

The possibility of having our Annual ( except for last year !) Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together demo on Sat July 3rd or Sat. July 10th should restrictions be sufficiently lifted.

West Yorks Scrutiny Board is going to discuss the Health White Paper at a workshop in March. West Yorks Partnership Board has it on the agenda for their meeting next week. Leeds is getting new Chairs of Adults, health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board and Health and Wellbeing Board. Gilda and John putting questions to the Board. Fiona Venner is now chairing Health and Wellbeing Board.

Full minutes

Suggested date for the Next Meeting is 17th March 6.30 – 8pm then 31st March and 14th April to avoid conflict with national KONP’s People’s Covid Inquiry which is meeting on Wednesdays every two weeks until mid June.

Why we need a People’s Covid Inquiry Now – Dr John Puntis

In a powerful plea for justice, Kamran Abbasi suggests in an Editorial in The BMJ that the consequences of government mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic amount to “social murder.” However, it is clear that those in power aim to avoid any scrutiny that might result in severe criticism. Ministers plan to delay any inquiry until such a time that this will pose no political threat and has become largely irrelevant. 

In July, responding to bereaved families, Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, stated now was not the right time for an investigation but there would “certainly” be one “in the future” so lessons could be learnt. He later made it clear this would not happen until the pandemic was beaten, despite MPs pleading for mistakes not to be repeated. In January 2021 he again reiterated that it would not be “sensible” to divert government resources away from the fight against covid-19. Did he reject the possibility that an inquiry might actually assist in this fight because he had been transferring his failures onto the public?

Johnson has talked of health staff having to make impossible decisions about which patients should or should not receive intensive care when demand outstrips resources, yet rejected the notion of providing legal protection for those put in this situation. This is presumably because of fear that to do so would be seen as acknowledging that government strategy has failed and the NHS was not protected. 

While there are some who defend the Westminster government’s response, few, other than perhaps misguided lockdown sceptics, dare argue that it represents some kind of exemplar. With nearly 120 000 deaths, including 29 000 in care homes and almost 900 health and care staff, we stand near the top of the world league table for mortality, worse even than the United States. Untold damage has been done to mental health, the educational prospects of children, people’s living standards, and the health of those with non-covid related illness. Social inequalities have been thrown into sharp relief, particularly by the pandemic’s disproportionate adverse effects on ethnic minority communities. 

A policy of virus suppression continues to be pursued in England despite evidence from countries such as New Zealand suggesting far better health and economic outcomes from a covid elimination approach. Large amounts of public money are being wasted on an ineffective privatised test and trace system, ineffective mass testing, and contracts with companies that have failed to deliver—for example on personal protective equipment (PPE)

While it became clear that crowding indoors, close proximity, and poor ventilation all contributed towards spread of infection, “eat out to help out,” going to the pub, and mixing over Christmas were all encouraged with predictable and dire results. Even now staff are being put at risk because PPE guidance has not been updated in the light of new insights into viral spread, to say nothing of inadequate workplace safety regulations given outbreaks such as the DVLA’s, which had over 500 cases

Healthcare workers have made heroic efforts but will bear the psychological scars for years to come. Whether they will be allowed time for respite once the spread of infection is under control remains doubtful; many are considering alternative employment or early retirement. With deaths during a second wave now exceeding those in the first, it is clear that there has been (and remains) no appetite in government for learning necessary lessons. 

Ministers may hope a successful vaccine rollout will mean their sins are forgiven—while credit for vaccination belongs not to them but to the NHS. Particular attention still needs to be focused on vulnerable groups that are more difficult to reach, yet currently there is not an inclusive approach that puts health inequalities at its heart. How long vaccination will confer protection is unknown, and the threat of further viral mutations brings at least the possibility of a variant against which available vaccines will not be protective. All this dictates that a raft of measures to eliminate community transmission of infection (social distancing; find test, trace, isolate, support; work place safety, etc.) is still urgently needed. 

Abbasi gives three possible ways of obtaining redress when citizens demand to know “who will be held accountable?” There is, however, a fourth way, and that is for citizens to hold their own inquiry. Keep Our NHS Public is convinced that it is in the public interest to learn lessons now so that any necessary actions can be taken sooner rather than at some unspecified point in the future—this we believe will save lives. We stand together with bereaved families and many others calling for justice. We aim to give a voice to all those crying out for accountability. To this end we are launching the People’s Covid Inquiry—to find answers to the questions the government lacks courage even to ask.

John Puntis, retired paediatrician and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public.

Competing interests: I am co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public.